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If you asked us which "quiet PC” case we’d buy following today’s test, our answer would technically have to be "none of them." But that’s only because the case that won this comparison is not explicitly marketed as a quiet PC component. Deliberately aimed at gamers, the SilverStone Raven RV02-E gets its noise-reducing features via alternative fan placement that coincidentally blocks-in noise at the same time. SilveStone even supplies moderately-noisy fans to bolster the case’s gaming potential, yet wisely adds a set of fan-speed selectors to reduce its noise from a dull roar to an acceptable hum. It’s this low-speed configuration that tops our charts.
Yet, as a gaming case, the Raven 2 Evolution may not fulfill the aesthetic or storage needs of some computing professionals. For that we have the second-place case, Fractal Design’s Define XL. It really surprises us that this server-sized part capable of holding ten hard drives and four optical drives is simultaneously more than 10% less expensive than SilverStone’s consumer-oriented part.
Antec offers the best value, but only if we subtract the price of its included power supply from the total cost of the Sonata IV. In other words, Antec’s Sonata IV provides the best value to buyers who also want a Neo ECO 620C power supply. Buyers who don’t want Antec’s power supply might prefer NZXT’s sub-$100 price tag.
Lian Li’s PC-B25S achieves middle-of-the-road thermal and noise results, in spite of the company’s application of acoustic foam to the interior side of nearly every exterior panel. Perhaps the foam was too thin, or perhaps it was simply the wrong material for the task, but we would have liked to see a case this attractive place higher on our performance charts. This particular chassis is so pleasing to the eye that we might even use it in one of our office PCs—along with specifically-selected low-noise parts.
That leaves the BitFenix Colossus as the odd man out in today’s comparison, meaning that the two gaming cases in our roundup place first and last, while enclosures specifically intended to serve as quiet cases fill the middle. We thought the Colossus’ double panels would reduce noise and, after feeling them, we’re fairly certain that the drive door was at least partly effective in that regard. Unfortunately, the outer skin simply isn't thick enough to deaden the drone of our CPU and GPU fans. The Colossus might have finished best in show if this were a design showcase, but is otherwise best-placed in our upcoming eight-slot gaming case showdown.